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Welcome to February, when reality reigns

A fallen maple leaf adds a splash of color to the barren snow covered landscape at Cameron Park on Sunday, December 9, 2018 in Raleigh, N.C.
A fallen maple leaf adds a splash of color to the barren snow covered landscape at Cameron Park on Sunday, December 9, 2018 in Raleigh, N.C. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Editor’s note: After 68 years of turning out one or two columns a week, A.C. is cutting back to writing once a month. Look for his column the first Sunday of the month.

Several years ago, a favorite niece, about 5 years old at the time, visited us. During the visit, she participated in a number of wedding festivities, and in general had a delightful weekend.

So when it came time for departure, she protested vociferously.

”Please get in the car, Honey,” her mother urged. “You’ve had a wonderful visit. Now it’s time to go back to the real world.”

Flinging herself upon the back seat of the car, she wailed, “I don’t want go back to the real world! I don’t want to go back to the real world!”

And so it is with many of us. Welcome to February. Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone. The magic of the season is spent.

Reality reigns again.

Now we face the real world of work, paying estimated taxes, gathering info for the Ides of April and rendering unto Caesar that which Caesar claims is his share of what we earned last year.

In addition, we must endure whatever Old Man Winter has up his sleeve in the form of sleet and/or snow.

I hope you made some good memories during the passage of 2018 and also will during the year ahead.

Speaking of Christmas memories, reader Robert Brown of Cary recalls one of his favorites.

”Your Christmas column reminded me of a certain Christmas when we lived in Texas,” he wrote. “Our cat came into the house carrying a live mouse. He let it escape and it ran up the Christmas tree. The cat naturally ran after the mouse. You can imagine the rest!”

Yes, I can well imagine the assortment of decorations and tree needles strewn about the room as bedlam raged among the tree branches.

Marital politics

Back in the real world, the fever-pitch political wars rage on. Most of TV’s “breaking news” have to do with some facet of the ongoing chaotic condition of the federal government.

I can’t remember when our nation was so politically divided. During holiday visiting, families were careful not to bring up politics out of fear of offending someone and creating lasting animosity.

Hillsborough reader Jim Richmond pointed out in an email, “There was a time in the history of our country when a husband and wife could belong to different political parties and it was not grounds for divorce.”

I grew up in a staunch Republican family. Just listening to FDR’s famous “Fireside chats” on the living room Philco was a spanking offense for us children.

But to my surprise, when I married, the word went out, not that A.C. was marrying a Democrat, which would have been bad enough, but that he was marrying a Methodist, which, to some, was even worse.

That was a time when my family thought that anybody who was not a totally immersed Baptist had better worry about his or her destination in the hereafter. Baptism by “sprinkling” didn’t count.

Over the years, several relatives visiting Israel have “gifted” me with vials of water from the River Jordan.

We were once visiting the late, renowned Rev. W.W. Finlator at Springmoor Health Center when my wife mentioned our accumulation of Jordan River water and asked the reverend what we should do with it.

Without hesitation, he replied, “Turn a burner on your kitchen stove on high. Put the water in a pot and boil hell out of it. The River Jordan is one of the dirtiest bodies of water on earth!”

Add Rosa!

The long-running issue of what to do with UNC’s Silent Sam seemingly will never be resolved to everybody’s satisfaction.

At one time, I thought about suggesting that the university erect a statue of Rosa Parks, one of America’s most significant civil rights heroines, alongside Silent Sam.

In 1955, the black seamstress boosted the civil rights movement in the South when she refused to give up her seat and move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Ala.

Whatever the final location of Silent Sam, it won’t satisfy every faction that has become invested in the issue.

Importance of punctuation

Undoubtedly, many of you disliked English grammar when you were in public school or college as much as I did. As students, we seldom realized the importance of using grammar correctly in both written and oral communication.

For example, I recently encountered a newspaper headline that read, ”Take a break from cooking, kids and in-laws.”

I realized that without the comma, that sentence would have read: ”Take a break from cooking kids and in-laws.”

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